Rugby officials have launched an investigation after a player after lashed out and struck a teammate.
Fans at the recent Napier Pirate Rugby & Sports Club v Aotea clash in the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union's club competition were left stunned after Pirates' forward Sean Morrison hit teammate Kelsey Miller in the face.
The incident – which was broadcast during highlights of the match on Sky's Grassroots Rugby show – happened after Aotea scored a try.
Morrison told the Herald he did not punch Miller.
Instead he said in a moment of frustration he unleashed an "open-handed" strike.
In the lead-up to the five-pointer, the Aotea player had been able to run through a defensive line featuring Morrison.
Miller is caught on camera having words to his teammate, and then appeared to give him a gentle shove. A second video of the incident, provided by Morrison, which shows the moment his hand connected with his teammate.
Morrison responded by lashing out.
Napier Pirate chairman Graham Atkins told the Herald the matter was of concern and would be discussed at a committee meeting on Monday night.
"Our club captain has been dealing with it," he said.
"I have to careful what I say. [But] it is not something you would expect to see. That sort of behaviour is very disappointing.
"We are not that sort of club."
Atkins said Napier Pirate had the "right" to bring anyone who "brought the club into disrepute" before its management committee to explain themselves.
Morrison told the Herald he regretted his actions, which he said occurred in the heat of the moment after comments from his teammate.
"I apologised to Kelsey immediately," he said.
"We have known each other for ages, and played together for a long time. I was telling him to pull his head in."
He said the contact was not a punch, instead he struck Miller "open-handed".
Morrison added it had been a "very stressful" end to the game, and "emotions were high".
Napier Pirate won the match 26-22.
Footage of the post-try incident has been circulated around the world.
It has also been picked up by international media outlets including the Daily Mail, which reported: "Morrison was one of the players that the Aotea player skated past and Miller was not happy," the report said.
"He proceeded to give his teammate an all-time spray, but Morrison was having none of it."
A Hawke's Bay Today match report of the encounter described the game as a "festival of exciting rugby".
"After a minute's silence for recent iwi deaths, a spirited haka set the platform for a mighty battle between Aotea and Pirates, which eventually went the visitor's way 26-22."
Neither players involved in the post-try clash were in the Napier Pirate squad for last weekend's club action.
Morrison had been in trouble when red-carded off the field by referee Stuart Catley during Pirate's 47-14 defeat by eventual unbeaten Cup winner Napier Tech Old Boys on May 7.
A profile of Morrison on Napier Pirate's Facebook page states: "He's been called the comeback king of 2022, and with his Player of the Match 80-minute performance last week, I'm not surprised!
"Sean started playing for Pirates in 5th grade and has been a staunch club man throughout his senior rugby.
"He spent his high school years playing for the first 15 and went on to play Hurricanes under 20's and spent a few years in HB Development, always playing prop.
"Seany is infamous for his big hits on the field (always legal of course). I've heard many Pirates comment that they're glad they play alongside him and not against him!
"At 26, he's racked up an impressive 91 premier games and that's with a few seasons out due to injury, his goal for 2022 is to follow in his dads footsteps and get to that 100th game. Sean's highlight as a Pirate was winning the 2015 Maddison.
"Sean enjoys his time outside of rugby playing with cars, having beers with the boys and spending time with his baby girl. We're very excited to have Sean back in black this season."